Border Regimes and Human Rights

David Miller
Goldsmiths College, University of London
This article argues that there is no human right to cross borders without impediment. Receiving states, however, must recognize the procedural rights of those unable to protect their human rights in the place where they currently reside. Asylum claims must be properly investigated, and in the event that the state declines to admit them as refugees, it must ensure that the third country to which they are transferred can protect their rights. Both procedural and substantive rights apply while refugees are physically present in the state’s territory and their immigration status is being investigated. The state’s obligation to protect these rights arises from the power it exercises over them. In contrast, the state does not exercise equivalent power over those it declines to admit in the first place, even though its immigration criteria – if discriminatory in the negative sense – can be faulted on other grounds. Beneath these arguments lie two basic assumptions: one is the need to separate human rights claims from other claims of justice, especially those deriving from citizenship; the other is the need to determine who bears the obligations that correspond to these rights. Attention to the different relations in which prospective immigrants may stand toward the state they hope to enter can help us understand how border regimes may comply with, or violate, human rights.
Keywords borders  human rights  state obligations  immigration  justice claims  citizenship
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DOI 10.1515/lehr-2013-0001
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Justice in Immigration.David Miller - 2015 - European Journal of Political Theory 14 (4):391-408.

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